Bauckham, Richard. “Chapter 15, The Witness of the Beloved Disciple." Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.” Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006, pp. 384-411.
Bauckham recalls for his readers the overall thrust of the book, that in the ancient world the most accepted historical writing was done by people who were personally involved in the events. This would explain the specific claims in the Fourth Gospel of the author as an authoritative eyewitness (Bauckham 2006, 385). Even as he reminds us of this fact, Bauckham is clear that the term "eyewitness" did not evoke the same ideas to a Greek audience as it does in English. The English almost always has legal connotations while the Greek does not (Bauckham 2006, 386). Though Bauckham does admit to a lawsuit metaphor in the Fourth Gospel, the Beloved Disciple is not on trial and is not at all the only one bearing testimony (Bauckham 2006, 387). Bauckham notes that in this respect Luke-Acts has a strong similarity to the Fourth Gospel. It is important that eyewitnesses be identified as a means of rightly preserving knowledge of the historic events (Bauckham 2006, 389).
Bauckham identifies the literary inclusio of the Beloved Disciple in some detail, finding subtle parallels between "the anonymous disciple in 1:35-40 and the Beloved Disciple in chapter 21" (Bauckham 2006, 391). Both passages feature two unnamed disciples and a move to follow Jesus, then one remaining with Jesus.
The Beloved Disciple plays a role in the Fourth Gospel, but appears relatively rarely, and is consistently referred to in the third person (Bauckham 2006, 393). Bauckham considers the third person references, typical in antiquity, as a means not of portraying objectivity but of avoiding distraction. A first person reference may make the reader want to identify with the author rather than with the events (Bauckham 2006, 394). The Beloved Disciple remains a figure clearly interested in the events and narrative. However, he does not appear to Bauckham as an "ideal" disciple (Bauckham 2006, 395). He does have a distinctive role, and, in some ways, is portrayed as superior to Peter. However, the detail that surfaces the most is his intimate knowledge and understanding of Jesus (Bauckham 2006, 397). Bauckham sums the distinction up by describing the difference between Peter and John. "The Beloved Disciple is better qualifeid to be the author of a Gospel, but he is not better qualified to be the chief undershepherd of Jesus' sheep, which is Peter's mode of discipleship" (Bauckham 2006, 400).
Though John's Gospel actually states the presence of the Beloved Disciple relatively few times, Bauckham considers that his presence was very common. It is not uncommon for writers of primarily eyewitness testimony to also describe events at which they were not present but for which they have reliable information (Bauckham 2006, 402). Bauckham notes that the Fourth Gospel does not list the Twelve in the same way as the Synoptics. It also tends to focus on different named characters. This further solidifies the idea that it is the testimony of an eyewitness who is recording some different events than those in the Synoptic accounts (Bauckham 2006, 403). Furthermore, the assertions of seeing God's glory (1:14 etc.) suggest an understanding of who Jesus is and what he is doing (Bauckham 2006, 404).
Bauckham asks why the Fourth Gospel does not identify the Beloved Disciple as witness and author until the end of the Gospel. Bauckham observes that he may ntot have been one of the prominent members of the Twelve as listed in the Synoptics (Bauckham 2006, 407). There is no list of the Twelve in the Fourth Gospel. Bauckham next asks whether we can tell if the Fourth Gospel was actually written by the Beloved Disciple. He considers that the very fact that it claims to be written by someone relatively obscure is a strong argument in favor of authenticity (Bauckham 2006, 409). Further, the fact that the work is a relatively carefully polished work of historiography suggests the author was, in fact, an eyewitness to the events (Bauckham 2006, 410).